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2021 WNBA Semifinals: Aces escape with Game 1 victory

The Las Vegas Aces, led by Chelsea Gray, Riquna Williams, Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson, narrowly defeated the Phoenix Mercury.

2021 WNBA Playoffs - Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces
Chelsea Gray (with ball) drives as Kia Nurse (center) and Brittney Griner (right) try to guard her.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

Chelsea Gray had 17 points and 12 assists, Riquna Williams and Kelsey Plum were on fire offensively and A’ja Wilson was solid as the Las Vegas Aces took Game 1 of their semifinal series against the Phoenix Mercury, 96-90, on Tuesday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

The Mercury led all the way through the first quarter and a half, but the Aces led from midway through the third until the end of the game.

Down 10 entering the fourth, Phoenix was able to pull within three on a Skylar Diggins-Smith triple with 6:35 remaining. It also got within four on Brittney Griner baskets at the five-minute mark and the 4:20 mark of the fourth. However, six-straight points from Wilson pushed the Vegas lead back to 10.

Griner made a big-time mid-range shot with 38 seconds left to again cut it to four, but the Mercury were unable to score again.

Williams finished with a playoff career-high 26 points on 4-of-9 shooting from distance while Plum was good for a playoff career-high 25 points and three assists. Wilson posted 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists. The Aces bench outscored the Mercury bench 34-11 and only Plenette Pierson (26 points in a 2007 contest) has scored more points than Plum off the bench in a playoff game.

Griner notched 24 points, seven boards and six assists in defeat while Diana Taurasi added 20 points and six helpers for the Mercury.

The Aces won second chance points 22-6 and went an efficient 9-of-19 from downtown compared to Phoenix’s 9-of-31 effort.